My career as a videographer spent behind the camera. Whether I am filming a documentary, or filming a training video, it is pretty straight-forward. Point the camera at the subject, make sure the lighting and sound are good, begin recording. There may be variations on this method, but overall, it is generally the same each
My career as a videographer spent behind the camera. Whether I am filming a documentary, or filming a training video, it is pretty straight-forward. Point the camera at the subject, make sure the lighting and sound are good, begin recording. There may be variations on this method, but overall, it is generally the same each time.
That is, unless I am filming from the air.
Only a few years ago, I would never have been able to film from the sky. Even last year, while filming for my documentary, I needed to go up in a small ultra-light to get the shots that I wanted. To get any good aerial shots, or crane shots, I would need to spend a lot of money to fly around shooting video.
That has all changed thanks to drones. Now, I can get aerial video quickly and easily, at a relatively low cost. Of course, there are things to consider when dealing with aerial video versus land video.
Choosing the Right Equipment for Aerial Videography with a Drone
The first is the camera itself. With land-based videography, you can get by with a simple camera as long as it is good quality. You can have something as simple as an iPhone camera to film if you like. The difference with aerial videography is the fact that a good HD camera fixed to a drone may be insufficient for great aerial filming.
My first drone was a wonderful little AR Parrot 2.0, which was a good starter drone with a fixed-mount HD camera. The problem was, it was small and light, and the camera was built into the body. As such, in windy conditions, the drone would shake, the camera would shake, and the footage turned out poorly as a result. I had to upgrade my drone to a better Yuneec Typhoon Q500+, which has an independent camera attached to its own stabilization unit to get quality footage in such conditions.
More Involved Safety Prep for Aerial Drone Videography
Filming an event with a drone – a parade, a sporting event, a crowd – is very different from filming with a land-based video camera It is like driving a car versus flying a plane. When you are filming on the ground, you hold the camera or mount it on a tripod. You have complete control over it, and there is little danger for anyone.
By contrast, when flying a drone with a camera, there are many factors beyond your control. A good gust of wind can bring your drone down, creating hazards to those around you. A bystander may throw something at your drone, which can cause a crash as well. As such, you must be highly aware of your drone, your surroundings, and more, so that you any risks to your equipment, other people, and local property. Not a week goes by these days without a news story about a drone crashing at an event it seems.
Legalities to Follow for Successful Aerial Videography
Lastly, you can literally film anytime you want with a regular video camera, but not so with an aerial camera. With a drone camera, you need permission to film in certain places, and must avoid other locations due to restricted air space. What’s more, if you are using your footage as part of a commercial enterprise, you need a certificate (depending on where you live, such as a Special Operators Flight Certificate from Transport Canada. This requires that you have permission to fly over a certain areas, and that you have the skills to handle a drone in emergency situations. As such, as an aerial videographer, there’s a lot more you have to do to ensure you’re legal.
As you can see, there is a big difference between filming from the air, and filming on the ground. That said, the gains you can achieve by using this type of technology are significant and worth the effort, if you ask me.
Image via Flickr: blhphotography